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George Borrow

George Borrow, by Henry Wyndham Phillips, 1843-1868, based on a work of 1843 -NPG 1841 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue

George Borrow

replica by Henry Wyndham Phillips
1843-1868, based on a work of 1843
19 in. x 14 1/2 in. (483 mm x 368 mm)
NPG 1841

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed on the stretcher: Presented to Hubert Smith Esq. by his friend Henrietta McOubrey/to be given to him at her death.

This portraitback to top

This is a small replica of the portrait of Borrow by Phillips, commissioned by John Murray II, and still in possession of the Murray family. Murray frequently commissioned portraits of writers whose work he published. The Murray portrait was engraved by W. Holl, and published as frontispiece to the first edition of Lavengro (1851), I, and in later editions of Borrow's work. On 21 June 1843, Murray wrote to Borrow:

'I have seen your portrait. Phillips is going to saw off a bit of the panel, which will give you your proper and characteristic height. Next year you will doubtless cut a great figure in the Exhibition. It is the best thing young Phillips has done.' [1]
The Murray portrait was exhibited RA, 1844 (8), and VE 1892 (267). The NPG replica was presumably commissioned by Borrow for himself.

Footnotesback to top

1) See W. I. Knapp, Life, Writings and Correspondence of George Borrow (1899), II, 324, reproduced I, frontispiece.

Referenceback to top

Eastern Daily Press, 21 September 1967.

Physical descriptionback to top

Fresh complexion, brown eyes, grey hair. Dressed in a white shirt, scarlet waistcoat and black (velvet?) cloak. Background colour grey-green.

Provenanceback to top

The sitter; Mrs MacOubrey, his step-daughter; Hubert Smith later Smith-Stanier; Mrs Smith-Stanier, presented by her, 1919.1

1 Letters from Mrs Smith-Stanier, 1912, when the NPG first approached her about the portrait, and 1919, when she finally presented it (NPG archives).


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Ormond, Early Victorian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1973, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.

View all known portraits for George Borrow

View all known portraits for Henry Wyndham Phillips

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